Mae West was a legendary actress who taught Americans to smile about sex.
She was an original: the ultimate bosomy, blond sex symbol whose style — a silken walk, suggestive less of sex than of the meshing of superbly machined parts — was often imitated but never equaled.
Paramount Pictures, then teetering on the brink of insolvency, offered her $5,000 a week to start her film career in "Night After Night" (1932) with George Raft.
Her total list of film credits was an even dozen, a remarkably small number. No one else had ever established so secure a place in film history on the basis of so few roles, but then no other woman had become a sex symbol after making her screen debut at 39, either.